Internet Speed: The Truth Behind It and How it Affects You

January 23, 2023

Over-subscription Model

A girl in front of the computer

Of the few things that one can arguably never complain about being too fast, it is Internet speed. The long time it takes to load a page, the interruptions while streaming content or having a Zoom meeting–they all can be highly frustrating. These issues are becoming increasingly common as more and more people are depending on the Internet. It’s just not Gen-Zers who found a full-fledged lifestyle on TikTok and social media but also professionals who are increasingly working from home and relying on their own Internet connections to fulfill their work obligations. One would think that with the increasing demands, the infrastructure would improve and expand in capacity in proportion. 

Alas, that is rarely the case, as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are looking for the biggest bang for the buck. In an effort to cut costs, they tend to add as many subscribers as possible who are using the same pipe to the Internet. The more subscribers they have, the more profits they will make, and the more likely their customers experience poor Internet. ISP over-subscription rates are often in the range of 25:1 and up to 100:1, which means the ISP is selling 100 times more access bandwidth than they are purchasing in uplink bandwidth. It is more money for them, but we as consumers bear the brunt of this model and have to make do with subpar Internet. How do ISPs allocate the supply to the increasing demand then? Well, ISPs start deliberately slowing down bandwidth, in a very common practice known as throttling. Simply put, “ISP throttling is a money-saving tactic used by Internet companies to moderate network traffic, control bandwidth congestion, and mandate data limits.” So if your Internet slows down out of the blue even though you have done your troubleshooting and everything seems fine from your end, your ISP is limiting your bandwidth to accommodate more users.

These practices also highlight how one should really question the Internet speed packages advertised by ISP providers. They often cover their bases by promising speeds “up to” a certain mbps number. For the majority of the time, you are possibly using the Internet at a speed way below what they have promised. You may occasionally experience the Internet speed of what you paid for, but certainly not all the time. In times of high demand when too many people are sharing bandwidth, you will often find yourself getting the short end of the stick. 

What is My Internet Speed?

You may be curious about what your Internet speed is, and there are many tools online that can find that out for you. The tool here may be the most accurate, and gives you the basics of all you need to know about how your Internet is performing: latency, download speed and upload speed. 

It is important to differentiate between latency and bandwidth. Bandwidth determines how fast data can be transferred over a specific amount of time – higher bandwidth means faster Internet. Latency is the time it takes for data to be transferred from its original source and the response it gets from the destination, measured in milliseconds. So you may have higher bandwidth but lower latency, and the effects of that can be particularly experienced with gaming. Gamers may find their players randomly appearing and disappearing all over the screen, and overall gameplay running achingly slow. Any gamer can relate to how frustrating that is.

We will never be able to guess how your specific Internet connection is performing based on these three metrics. But to put it in very simple terms, you really want the latency number to be as low as possible, and the download and upload speed to be as high as possible–and also symmetrical. This is a very helpful benchmark that will help you read your results:

Table with internet speeds

The difference between cable and fibre is evidently striking, and you may even wonder why you’re deprived of high quality Internet provided courtesy of fibre.

Not All Fibre is The Same

A man sitting in front of the laptop

You’ve now realized the shortcomings of cable Internet, and want to make the switch to fibre, thinking it would immediately change things. That is not always the case, as bandwidth in fibre can also be rationed, to the extent that speed becomes marginally superior to cable Internet. This comes down to how fibre ultimately gets delivered to your home. Several fibre ISPs deliver Internet via the Fibre-to-the-Neighbourhood (FTTN) model. With FTTN, Internet will initially go to a node that serves as the focal distribution unit for your neighbourhood. Up to that point, it is all fibre connectivity. From that node, often called the “last mile”, all households in that neighbourhood will then get Internet through a coaxial cable. The Internet in that last mile is all cable–meaning in the end you get cable Internet while paying for fibre. Oftentimes, ISPs will promote providing fibre when they are using the FTTN delivery model, which in essence is really not fibre at all.

With Galaxy Fibre, it is 100% pure fibre all the way, as our infrastructure adopts the Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) delivery model. There is neither a node nor a “last mile” with FTTH–the fibre optic cables installed throughout the network go directly into your home/business.

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Other providers

If you’ve checked your Internet speed and realized how much you’re missing out on–fibre Internet is here in Brooks. Brought to you by Galaxy Fibre thanks to FTTH infrastructure built by BrooksNet, you experience the lowest latency and symmetrical download and upload speeds that can go to 1000 Mbps. Check here to see all our Internet subscription plans.

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